Moon Review 2

| July 24, 2009

Moon

DIR: Duncan Jones • WRI: Duncan Jones, Nathan Parker • PRO: Stuart Fenegan, Trudie Styler, Mark Foligno, Alex Francis, Steve Milne, Nicky Moss • DOP: Gary Shaw • ED: Nicolas Gaster • DES: Tony Noble • CAST: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott

Like other children of famous artists – be they Jesse Dylan (son of Bob) or Nick Cassavetes (son of John) – Duncan Jones will probably never fully escape the shadow of his famous father (in his case David Bowie). However, while the aforementioned directors have failed to wow audiences with their efforts, Jones’ first major feature is an assured piece of filmmaking, boosted by the quirky affability of the film’s star, Sam Rockwell. A deceptively simple storyline masks an effective sci-fi film that may never seek to challenge the audience in the same way as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Solaris, but remains compelling viewing nonetheless.

Set around the year 2020, Sam Bell (Rockwell) is aboard a base on the Moon run by Lunar Industries, a company responsible for harvesting fuel for use back on Earth. Sam is alone on the Moon base bar a rather talkative computer called GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) who caters to his every need – be it as his doctor, hairdresser or even as a comforting friend. With his three year contract aboard the station set to run out, Sam looks forward to a return to Earth but – lo and behold – things start to go awry with only three weeks left to go. A series of hallucinations begin to disorientate Sam and during a journey out on to the Moon’s surface, Bell comes across a male survivor in a company vehicle.

Jones, who both wrote and directed Moon, eschews the appeal of outright confrontation or melodramatic inner reflection. Instead, the carefully nuanced interactions are an apt analogy for the film in general: Jones’ story is all about ‘less is more’ and avoids bludgeoning the audience with moments of action or dramatic tension. Rockwell, who remains a criminally underappreciated actor, brings a real simplicity and believability to his role(s) as the astronaut whose only friend is a talking machine complete with an assortment of smiley face reactions.

Moon is by no means a classic, yet Jones’ beautifully shot look at isolation and the nature of human experience (although one suspects that such issues as the depletion of fossil fuels and global warming, which Sam Bell’s mission ultimately revolves around, also feature prominently in Jones’ mind) shows a director with a great degree of promise and a keen eye for an arresting shot. The Moon itself, as well as the Selene Moon base, belies the pitfalls of the film’s small budget (said to be in the region of $5 million). Moon’s nuanced approach, both visually and otherwise, proves once again that bigger does not equal better and that a sharp script, coupled with sharp acting, can account for an altogether more intriguing end product.

Jason Robinson
(See biog here)

Rated 15a
Moon is released on 17th July 2009
Moon – Official Website

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